Kyoto Protocol - climate change article
The is an international agreement adopted on the third Conference of Parties (COP 3) in Kyoto, Japan, on 11 December 1997. The major distinction between the Protocol and the Convention is that while the Convention encouraged industrialized countries to stabilize and reduce green house gas (GHG) emissions, the Protocol commits them to do so. The detailed rules for its implementation were adopted at COP 7 in Marrakesh in 2001, and are called the “” and adopted by CMP1 in Monteral.
The Protocol entered into force on 16 February 2005 after two conditions had been fulfilled:
- 55 Parties to the Convention have ratified the Protocol;
- Annex I parties to the Convention that ratified the Protocol have at least 55% of the total CO2 emissions for 1990 of the Parties included in Annex I.
As of 16 October 2008, 182 countries and 1 regional economic integration organization (the EEC) the Protocol and amount of emissions of the Annex I Parties reached 63,7%.
The mayor principles of the Kyoto Protocol are:
- Commitments – for the reduction of greenhouse gases (GHG) that are legally binding for Annex I countries, as well as general commitments for all Parties;
- Implementation – preparation of policies and measures for the GHG emission reduction for Annex I countries in order to meet the objectives of the Protocol;
- Minimizing Impacts on Developing Countries – establishing the for climate change for providing financial resources and transfer of technology by the developed country – Parties included in ;
- in order to ensure the integrity of the Protocol.
- Compliance – establishing the to enforce compliance with the commitments under the Protocol.
While the provisions of the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change concern all greenhouse gases that are not covered by the Montreal Protocol to the United Nations Convention on Protection of the Ozone Layer from 1987, the Kyoto Protocol focuses on the six gases given in Annex A of the Protocol, i.e. CO2, CH4, N2O, HFC, PFC and SF6:
The objective of the Kyoto Protocol is to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by at least 5% in comparison to the base year of 1990, during the commitment period from 2008 to 2012. To reach this goal, the of the Protocol sets binding targets for each of industrialized countries in percentage of their base year emission, thus limiting their emissions of six greenhouse gases, given aggregated in carbon dioxide equivalent emissions.
It is important to mention that these industrialized countries with a binding commitment in the Annex B of the Kyoto Protocol are actually developed countries, listed in of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Other Parties to the Convention, developing countries, are not included in any numerical limitation of the Kyoto Protocol due to the fact that they were not the main contributors to the greenhouse gas emissions during the pre-treaty industrialization period and are known as Parties to the Convention. However, even without target given in numbers, the developing countries, signing the Kyoto Protocol do share the common responsibility in reducing emissions.
Commitments of non-Annex I countries
Even there are no binding targets in GHG emission reduction for non-Annex I countries in the first commitment period; they share general commitments of all Parties to the Protocol (Article 10):
- Prearation of programmes that shall improve quality of local emission factors and/or models for the preparation and periodic updating of national inventories of anthropogenic emission by sources and removals by sinks of GHG;
- Formulation and implementation national or regional programmes containing measures to mitigate climate change and measures to facilitate adequate adaptation to climate change (the programmes will concern the energy, transport, industry, agriculture, forestry and waste management);
- Cooperation in scientific and technical research;
- Cooperation and promotion on international level the development and implementation of education and training programmes, strengthening of national capacity and facilitation at the national level public awareness on climate change;
- Commitment to include in national communications information on the mentioned programmes and activities.
The Kyoto Protocol Mechanisms
Countries that have commitments to limit or reduce greenhouse gas emissions must meet their targets primarily through national measures. Concerning the fact that the mitigation costs would be very high for the Annex I Parties, the Kyoto Protocol also establishes tree flexible mechanisms that can be used to achieve the objectives of the convention in a cost-effective way:
- – “The Parties included in Annex B may participate in emissions trading for the purposes of fulfilling their commitments under Article 3. Any such trading shall be supplemental to domestic actions for the purpose of meeting quantified emission limitation and reduction commitments under that Article.” (Article 17 of the KP) – This mechanism, also known as “the carbon market" is the mechanism that allows Annex I countries to engage in international trading of GHG emission reductions;
- – “The purpose of the clean development mechanism shall be to assist Parties not included in Annex I in achieving sustainable development and in contributing to the ultimate objective of the Convention, and to assist Parties included in Annex I in achieving compliance with their quantified emission limitation and reduction commitments under Article 3.” (Article 12 of the KP) – meaning that CDM has the dual purpose of assisting non-Annex I countries in achieving sustainable development, and assisting Annex I countries to earn emissions credits for undertaking projects that reduce emissions or enhance removals by sinks in non-Annex I countries;
- – “For the purpose of meeting its commitments under Article 3, any Party included in Annex I may transfer to, or acquire from, any other such Party emission reduction units resulting from projects aimed at reducing anthropogenic emissions by sources or enhancing anthropogenic removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in any sector of the economy” (Article 6 of the KP) or in other wordings it allows an Annex I Party to implement a greenhouse gas mitigation project in another Annex I country and to earn emissions credits equal to the resulting reductions.
The commitments for Annex I countries are expressed as levels of allowed emissions, or “assigned amount units” (AAUs) given in Annex B for every country over the period 2008-2012. The trading of AAUs is set in IET mechanism and allows trading between the countries that have units to spare with the ones that are over their targets.
As a result of the implementation of flexible mechanisms, a variety of reductions or removals that may be applied to reach the objective were formed:
- Removal Unit (RMU) – based on land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) activities that removes GHG from the atmosphere;
- Emission Reduction Unit (ERU)– reductions generated by a joint implementation projects;
- Certified Emission Reduction (CER) – reductions generated from a clean development mechanism project activity.
Kyoto Protocol Bodies
Kyoto Protocol Secretariat
According to the article 14 of the text of the Kyoto Protocol, the UNFCCC Secretariat, with all functions and organization established by the Convention will serve as the Secretariat to the Protocol, additionally performing functions set by the Protocol.
Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol
The Conference of the Parties (COP) as the body of the UNFCCC simultaneously serves as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol. This is referred to as the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP). The CMP has authority over and provide guidance to the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol. The first CMP was held in Montreal in the end of 2005, parallel to the COP 11, and amongst others, marked the entry into force of the Protocol. Adopted decisions set the framework international action regarding climate change in future. At that time, the Parties also formally adopted the so-called ‘Marrakesh accords’, the guidelines and modalities and procedures for implementation of the Kyoto Protocol flexible mechanisms. With around ten thousand people attending, that was the largest intergovernmental climate conference since the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol.
The CMP meets annually during the same period as the COP. Parties to the Convention that are not Parties to the Protocol may participate in the CMP as observers, without the right to take decisions. The functions of the CMP relating to the Protocol are similar to those carried out by the COP for the Convention.
The Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI)
These two permanent subsidiary bodies established under the Convention also serve the CMP.
Constituted Bodies under the Kyoto Protocol
The CDM Executive Board (EB) oversees the CDM under the Kyoto Protocol and prepares decisions for the CMP. It is in charge for recomendation of furher modalities and procedures, approval of new methodologies, accreditation of operational entities, development and maintenance of the CDM registry, etc.
The Joint Implementation Supervisory Committee (JISC), under the authority and guidance of the CMP, among the variety of tasks supervises the verification of emission reduction units (ERUs) generated by JI projects following the verification procedure under the JISC.
The compliance regime consists of a Compliance Committee made up of two branches: a Facilitative Branch and an Enforcement Branch.
The Bureau of the COP also serves the CMP. Member of the COP Bureau representing a non-Party to the Kyoto Protocol has to be replaced by a member representing a Kyoto Protocol Party.